Saturday, August 31, 2013

Arsenal to make audacious move for Schalke starlet Draxler

After failing to land their main targets the Gunners will make a desperate bid to tempt the Bundesliga club into parting company with one of German football's brightest talents.
Draxler
Arsenal have turned their attention to Schalke wonderkid Julian Draxler as they attempt to salvage a botched transfer window, Goal can reveal.

The Gunners have made an enquiry for the attacking midfielder after struggling to land some of their top targets.

Schalke value Draxler, who has earned six Germany caps at the age of 19 and is widely regarded as one the hottest emerging players in Europe, at the £40 million mark.

It is the latest in a string of increasingly scattergun moves by Arsene Wenger for marquee talent in the final stages of what has been a frustrating summer of activity for the club.

Arsenal have moved for Draxler amid growing doubts about whether they can capture Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid before Monday night's deadline.

Real have indicated they are willing to accept Arsenal's £25.6m bid for the Argentine but the deal has stalled due to Tottenham delaying Gareth Bale's world-record transfer to Real Madrid.

There are also doubts about whether Di Maria is willing to swap the Spanish giants for north London even though he could be the odd one out of the attacking misfielders available to manager Carlo Ancelotti this season.

The offer for Di Maria remains on the table but the Londoners are wary of waiting too long to capture the former Benfica man and risk failing to land any big-name stars.

Arsenal remain in the hunt for Wayne Rooney but have all but abandoned hope of signing other targets Luis Suarez or Karim Benzema.

Wenger also wants to add a midfielder - a second bid for Yohan Cabaye is still a possibility - and a goalkeeper, with Asmir Begovic the No.1 target.
Goal.com

De Rossi rejects Manchester United move

The Serie A club were willing to negotiate a sale after the Red Devils made overtures but coach Rudi Garcia confirms that the midfielder is set to stay for the season.
De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi has rejected the chance to move to Manchester UnitedGoal understands.

The Premier League champions indicated this week to Roma that they were willing to pay £10 million for the experienced Italy international.

Goal has learned that the Serie A club were willing to negotiate De Rossi's sale after lining up Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan as a replacement but, after lengthy consideration, the Giallorossi star has turned down the opportunity to join David Moyes's team.
"De Rossi is a Roma legend and wants to play for Roma," coach Rudi Garcia told the press of the midfielder's decision.

"We said that, after a certain point in the summer, he'd no longer be for sale [and] he is a man of his word. That date has passed and he will be with us for the entire season."

The 30-year-old has been assured by Garcia that he will have more first-team chances after slipping down the pecking order at Roma last season.

Nevertheless, influential sporting director Walter Sabatini would have recommended selling De Rossi in order to recruit Nainggolan.

It is another blow for United as they attempt to reinforce their midfield before Monday's deadline.

Moyes has already failed in bids to land Spanish pair Cesc Fabregas and Thiago before having offers rejected for Marouane Fellaini and Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera.

United are expected to table improved offers for Fellaini and Herrera after missing out on De Rossi.
Goal.com
Arsenal are reportedly preparing to launch a £70million raid on Real Madrid for Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria.

Karim Benzema
 Arsenal have been linked with a number of top names in recent weeks but only young striker Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini have arrived at Emirates Stadium so far this summer.

Mesut Ozil
The transfer window closes on Monday night at 23:00 BST and manager Arsene Wenger has said he remains optimistic about Arsenal's chances of strengthening their squad before the transfer deadline, and according to the Daily Mail, the Gunners are ready to splash the cash for Benzema, Ozil and Di Maria in the next 48 hours.
Di Maria

Arsenal are said to have opened talks with Real officials over the triple swoop, with the Spanish giants thought to be ready to offload several of their players - but only once Gareth Bale's £80m move from Tottenham is finalised, which may not be until Monday.

Bale has already agreed personal terms on a six-year deal with Los Blancos, but as of Saturday afternoon, the big-money transfer was yet to be completed.

Wenger has in recent days failed with a £10million bid for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and has also confirmed his interest in Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata.

And while the Frenchman is adamant he will not dissapoint fans in the transfer market, he has refused to be drawn on specific targets ahead of Monday night's transfer deadline.

"I will not give you any names because I think it would be unfair for the players and create some wrong hopes," Wenger told reporters.

"You can see that many of the disputes you have all over the country are because managers speak about players. In our job it's just - be discrete and try to make things happen, that's what we try to do.

"We have not a fixed number [of targets], I just think we are a bit short at the moment. The most important thing is to focus on the quality of the squad we have and to play the football we want to play.

"You can come back to me and say 'yes, but you don't make things happen' but still most important is what happens on the football pitch. The rest? We work very hard on it."

"I still am optimistic and I hope I will not disappoint you."
CrunchSports

Chelsea v Bayern: Why Guardiola gets under Mourinho's skin

Morinho vs. Guardiola
If there is one person in football that gets under Jose Mourinho's skin like no other, it's Pep Guardiola. Much has been written about how the Portuguese coach chipped away at the Barcelona manager in recent years, but it works in reverse, too. We only had to wait minutes into Mourinho's pre-Super Cup press conference yesterday for evidence, with the Chelsea manager berating a journalist for daring to suggest that he struggles to beat Guardiola's teams. The journalist was wrong, he insisted.

In reality, he was right. Seven wins, five draws and three losses. There stands Guardiola's record against Mourinho. He knows that, of course. A coach as meticulous as Mourinho will not be unaware of his record against a major rival, especially if that rival is Guardiola. Because Guardiola is a rival like no other.

Their relationship is one that spans decades, and has twisted and turned in different directions as the years roll on. A timely dip back into history by Twitter user Futbolero a few months ago revealed just how highly Mou rated Pep as a player when they worked together at Barcelona:

“With the ball, Guardiola is incredible, one of the best in the world. There is something fundamental: Pep always wants, and always knows what he wants”. So said Mourinho to Mundo Deportivo in 1996. The unnamed 'thing' that Pep wants is presumed to be the ball, an obsession that has continued long into Guardiola's coaching career. But that's not all. In the same piece, Mourinho goes on to make a revelation that is striking in hindsight:

“I'm an admirer of [Johan] Cruyff”.

These days it's hard to see how Jose Mourinho, the man (rightly or wrongly) said to define 'anti-football', could be a self-confessed admirer of Johan Cruyff. But there it is, straight from the horse's mouth. That, in itself, further explains why Guardiola has proven to be such an irritant for Mourinho in recent years. Because Pep took the job Mourinho wanted more than any other. The job at the club that Cruyff built.

Thanks to Graham Hunter's exceptional book, Barça, it is now well documented that Jose Mourinho was being interviewed for the Barcelona position in early 2008. While, in the end, he didn't get the gig, the stumbling block was never his style of football. Then director of football Txiki Begiristain was more than convinced that Mourinho could adapt his football to Barcelona. Considering he was an admirer of Cruyff's philosophy in his early days as a coach, that's no surprise. Our formative years shape our later thinking, after all.

But of course, Mourinho didn't pass the final test. Guardiola did. Dreams of returning as Barcelona's triumphant 'home-grown' coach were dashed for the Portuguese. Any opportunity to show the world that he could play possession-based football just as well as anybody else was denied, too. Instead, Mourinho was forced to stand back and watch as the club where he had learned his trade flourished under one of the players he had been dealing out orders to only a decade earlier. That must have hurt. 'Today, tomorrow, and forever, with Barcelona in my heart', Mourinho told onlookers gathered at Plaça Sant Jaume in 1997. Forever lasted until 2008, when Barcelona broke his heart and ensured that Guardiola stayed at the forefront of his mind.

The fallout that ensued, first between Pep's Barcelona and Mourinho's Inter, then his Madrid, is common knowledge. Mourinho won his second Champions League at Barcelona's expense, but that pleasure didn't last long, with Guardiola adding his own second European Cup as a coach only a year later, eliminating Mou's Madrid in the process.

Even when Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, Mourinho couldn't escape his shadow. As some of football's biggest jobs became available, Pep's name was omnipresent at the top of the list, with Mourinho lagging behind. In a way it was understandable; Mou's Madrid were beginning to fall apart, with internal turmoil caused by his 'with me or against me' mentality seeping into their performances. It was a reminder of his scorched earth policy that is believed to have proven dissuasive for some of the clubs considering him as their next manager. Some clubs didn't even consider him at all, if you believe Uli Hoeness. "Guardiola and Mourinho had an interesting battle in Spain over some seasons," he recently noted, "but our coach left his adversary miles behind." Hoeness would say that, of course, but in terms of not only the trophies won, but the image he left behind to his potential employers, Guardiola did come off the better of the two.

And so, sooner than we may have expected, here we are. Chelsea against Bayern. The teams have changed, but it's still Mourinho against Guardiola, a one-off opportunity to remind the world of just who the special one really is, and at the expense of the man that has stolen much of his thunder. Mourinho may be keen to play down the importance of his rivalry with the Catalan, but make no mistake about it, this game is more than just a meeting of two of Europe's elite. It's personal.
TalkSport

Bayern Munich defeat Chelsea on penalties in Uefa Super Cup

• Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (aet; Bayern win 5-4 on pens)
• Ribéry 47 Martínez 120; Torres 8, Hazard 93
Franck Ribéry lifts the Super Cup trophy after Bayern Munich's victory over Chelsea on penalties
It came down to penalties, just as it had in the Champions League final a couple of seasons ago, only this time there was no happy sense of déjà vu for Chelsea and the players in blue were on their knees rather than dancing round the pitch and pretending to drink from the trophy.
They have made an art form of winning these occasions, sometimes against all the odds, and they can take great dignity from defeat considering the backs-to-the-wall operation they put up against formidable opponents. Javi Martínez's equaliser to take the game to penalties arrived, cruelly, in the final seconds of stoppage time at the end of the additional 30 minutes. The difference this time, unlike in Munich, was that Bayern's penalty-taking was flawless.
David Alaba, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribéry and Xherdan Shaqiri all beat Petr Cech on a bittersweet night for the Chelsea goalkeeper in which he was at fault for Bayern's first equaliser but then produced a series of stunning saves during the late, unremitting onslaught.
David Luiz, Oscar and Frank Lampard all finished their penalties with great confidence. Ashley Cole's somehow crept in after striking the inside of the post and flashing across the goalline, and then it was Romelu Lukaku's turn. His effort was not struck with great conviction and Manuel Neuer dived to his left to win the first trophy of Pep Guardiola's reign at Bayern. José Mourinho will have to wait a little longer for the first of his second spell at Chelsea.
Mourinho will not enjoy losing out to his old adversary and there was something agonising about the way Javi Martínez denied Chelsea just at the point of the match when it was looking like another success story for the durability that has become the team's trademark in Europe.
The Europa League winners had lost Ramires to a red card four minutes before the game went into extra-time and, at that stage, a lesser team would have crumpled. Chelsea simply shook their heads clear and braced themselves for a siege. Eden Hazard put them into a 2-1 lead, in a rare breakaway three minutes into the first period, and the drama was unrelenting as Bayern pinned them back in search of an equaliser.
Once again we saw this great Bayern team trying desperately to navigate a way past a goalkeeper and defence operating with a thou-shall-not-pass mentality. On the sidelines Mourinho could be seen furiously gesturing towards the Chelsea supporters to turn up the volume.
In the opposite dugout it was rare to see Guardiola so animated, kicking the advertising boards, screaming to the skies. This might not be the competition they crave the most but both teams gave everything. It was an epic night and, by the end, it was difficult not to feel for Chelsea even if, on the balance of play, Bayern deserved their glory.
The huge banner showing off the five trophies Bayern accumulated last season needs to be updated now. "Oana Basst No Nei," read the accompanying message from Bavaria. Translation: "Room for one more."
Yet amid all the late drama it was also true that Chelsea could have won the match in more orthodox fashion. They had taken the lead through Fernando Torres's crisp right-foot finish, confidently putting away Andre Schürrle's eighth-minute cross. Brilliant as Cech was, he will be aggrieved by the soft way he let Ribéry's shot beat him three minutes into the second half.
Ramires saw red for a foul on Mario Götze, having already been booked for a challenge on Ribéry, but Chelsea could still have spared themselves extra-time. Branislav Ivanovic turned a late header against the crossbar and David Luiz had an even better opportunity shortly afterwards.
If Bayern did have a weakness, it was in defence, as demonstrated by the way they opened up for Hazard to come in from the left, step inside Lahm and Jérôme Boateng and lash a shot past an obliging Neuer. Chelsea had to defend with great togetherness and try to catch refined opponents on the counter-attack. Most of all it was a night for their defenders to excel. Cole, once again, rose to the big occasion. David Luiz showed why Chelsea have repelled Barcelona's advances. Gary Cahill epitomised their efforts with two saving tackles to block near-certain goals for Thomas Müller in the first half, then Shaqiri towards the end of extra-time. Cech's night was undermined by his slow reflexes for Ribéry's goal. That apart, however, this was a marvellous performance from the goalkeeper.
Mourinho will also reflect on the chance Oscar spurned, clean through after Dante's mistake, with the score at 1-1. For long spells, though, Bayern demonstrated why they are such feared opponents. Ribéry, in particular, was irrepressible. They also had three substitutes in Javi Martínez, Shaqiri and Götze who were able to influence the game. Javi Martínez is not a bad player to bring off the bench. Twice denied by Cech, he finally got the better of him from Dante's lay-off in a crowded penalty area.
After that it was a display of exceptional accuracy from 12 yards until we reached the point when Shaqiri had made it 5-4. John Terry had come on in extra-time to add another defender to an already desperate rearguard action. But he declined the opportunity to take one of the spot-kicks. Instead it was left to Lukaku and the striker finished the night with his head in his hands.
The Guardian

Friday, August 30, 2013

Manchester United Scouting Reports: Ander Herrera

As the transfer window approaches its inevitable conclusion, Manchester United are yet to reinforce the core of the team; they are still yet to sign a central midfielder. As time ticks down, a new name has popped up in the transfer rumors, that of Ander Herrera. An Athletic Bilbao player, United have already had one bid for him turned down, with the Bilbao president saying that Manchester United will have to pay his full buyout clause, believed to be at 36 million Euros (30 million pounds) to attain his services. The question is, is the young Spaniard worth such a high price?

Performance from Last Season:

While Bilbao suffered a noticeable drop-off in the previous season, especially when compared to the heights achieved in the 2011-12 season, reaching the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals, Ander Herrera performed rather well for the team. He was able to accumulate 29 appearances for the Basque team, in which he averaged 66 passes per game, while only completing 80.9% of the passes he attempted. The passes attempted number is significantly higher than that of the second-best midfielder in Manchester United's current squad; attempting 17 more passes on average than Tom Cleverley. The difference is in the fact that Herrera loses the ball much more often than Cleverley does, completing 10% less passes than Cleverley. While he still completes more passes as a total than Cleverley does (53 completed per game vs. 44 completed per game), his tendency to give the ball away is a bit of a problem. An explanation for this could easily lie in his key passes statistic. On average, Ander Herrera completes 1.3 key passes per game, showing that he is more than able to pick out his teammates and create goal scoring chances. This statistic is higher than that of United's best midfielder in the form of Michael Carrick who completes 1 key pass per game, and Cleverley makes 0.9 key passes per game. Despite making opportunities for his teammates quite frequently last season, Herrera only had 2 assists. Here it can be put down to one key factor: Fernando Llorente's apparent banishment from the squad, wherein he received little to no play-time throughout the season due to the fact that he wished to join Juventus. The man who was Bilbao's key man the previous season played little to no part for the club in the 2012-13 season, leading to lesser goals for the club. 
Nonetheless, Herrera also managed to score one league goal for himself in the previous season. Herrera possesses the ability to pick out his teammates from a distance with ease, as demonstrated by his 4.3 completed long passes per game, putting him a level above that of Tom Cleverley's, completing 1.3 more long passes in a match on average. This is only one more facet in the attacking abilities that Herrera possesses, as he also completes 1.5 dribbles per game, a number that is significantly higher than that of all of the United midfielders, showing that he will be able to carry the ball forward when necessary and with ease. This attacking work leads to him having 1.9 shots per game, another statistic that is well above that of any of United's current batch in the center of the park, showing that he is not at all afraid to get forward. What is so amazing about his attacking abilities is the simple fact that he is more than willing to track back and defend. Driven by the loss of Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich, Athletic Bilbao needed someone to step and fill his shoes, and Herrera did just that, completing 4 tackles per game on average last season, with 1.3 interceptions per game. The tackles per game statistic is higher than all of United's current midfielders, and the interceptions is above that of Cleverley's showing that he will be able to provide a defensive presence when necessary. Putting in such a hard defensive shift inevitably results in a higher rate of fouling players, and that is shown through his 1.8 fouls per game, something that he will definitely have to lower should he join United. He is also dispossessed 1.9 times per game and turns the ball over 1.5 times per game, again showing that he has some work to do when it comes down to his ball retention skills. At the age of 24 though, he can definitely improve.

How Would He Fit In?

Quite simply, Herrera would replace Tom Cleverley as a partner to Michael Carrick to form Manchester United's midfield duo, be it in a 4-4-2 formation or a 4-2-3-1 formation. His abilities to both attack and defend will be very important to the team should he join. He will be able to provide creativity both going forward and going back to defend, being an improvement to Tom Cleverley. His presence in forward areas will cause problems for opposition defenses, who already have to worry about the creative abilities of Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, and Robin van Persie, thereby leading to having someone open as an option to pass to. Should the opposition concentrate solely on one player, the others will be left open, forcing the opposing teams to worry about all of United's attacking prowess. One simple lapse in concentration will lead to an opening, an opening that could be easily exploited with the talent on hand. Herrera will be able to provide extra creativity in the final third of the pitch, something Cleverley is not able to do often enough in matches, and hence aid all of United's forwards by finding passes along with creating space to run into. He will also allow Michael Carrick to play as a deeper-lying, holding midfielder, orchestrating the play from a position more back in the field. Herrera's presence will free up Carrick to play how he wishes, to conduct the orchestra, and Herrera's own abilities going forward give United 6 viable creative options when attacking, the wingers, the attacking midfielder, the striker, as well as the central midfield, an area from which not enough goals and assists have been coming as of late. His abilities to pull off long balls with ease and consistency will also allow United to spread the play and play the traditional United fashion with wing play as well as technical skill and tiki-taka-esque football, especially with the abilities of Kagawa, Rooney, Herrera, and Carrick. Quick, one-touch passing can be expected from the team should Herrera join, providing the team with a bit of Spanish flair. In addition, he will be able to carry the ball forwards, something United have missed coming from the midfield for a while now. Equally important will be his defensive contribution. The hard work that he puts into defending will be very important, as it will allow United to gain the ball quickly after losing it and essentially dominating midfield areas. At the age of 24, he can develop into the leader of the United midfield.

The Key Problem:

The potential problems with signing Ander Herrera lie in his tendency to give the ball away consistently. His 80.9% passing completion rate is simply not high enough. He loses the ball far too often when passing, something which he needs to improve upon as it may simply end up causing the opposition to counter-attack and even score a goal against the team. Against the very best teams in Europe, especially, being so profligate with the ball is just asking for trouble. He needs to learn to play the safe passes when necessary to ensure that United hold onto the ball as long as possible and create chances as well. His tendency to give away fouls is another spot of worry; providing the opposition with set pieces, especially the best teams, is a very dangerous proposition, as they will easily exploit any weakness in the Manchester United defense and score the goals. He is also not yet proven in England, and my struggle a little bit with the physicality of the game, being a bit small, but we have seen small, yet technically gifted Spaniards such as Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, and David Silva flourish in the Premier League. Yet you can never be too sure about any player.

The Right Signing?

Perhaps Ander Herrera can become the player Manchester United need to solve their midfield problems. He certainly has the potential, he certainly has the talent. He can keep the ball moving, ping long balls with ease, find through passes, and dribble past the opposition while also putting in a hard work rate in helping out the team by defending as well as regaining possession quickly and efficiently, a byproduct of working under Marcelo Biesla. But worries are there with his tendency to give the ball away to the opposition relatively frequently. Herrera fouls opponents quite often and just plain gives the ball straight to the opponents, something the best players could take advantage of and exploit, exposing the defense very often. Nonetheless, he will most certainly grow and improve, especially as he has yet to hit his best years considering he is still 24, but is he worth 30 million pounds? Perhaps, but we will have to wait and see.

Likelihood: 7.5/10
Impact: 8.5/10

Come and get me! Arsenal and United put on transfer alert as £56m forward Kaka wants out of Real

Wanting out: Kaka wants to leave Real Madrid
Brazilian star Kaka has revealed that he wants to leave Real Madrid. 
Kaka joined Madrid from AC Milan in a world-record £56million deal in the summer of 2009 but has failed to live up to expectations at the Bernabeu, scoring only twenty-nine goals in four seasons at the club. 
The 31-year-old has made 120 appearances for the Spanish side - at a cost of £466,666 per game - and was often overlooked by Jose Mourinho last season, with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Luka Modric being preferred.

Further competition has been added to the Madrid squad this summer, with Isco joining from Malaga and Gareth Bale's £86million move to the Spanish capital looking imminent. 
And Kaka admits it may be time to move on, telling AS: 'I am feeling very good physically but the club know that I would like to find a solution to my situation. Things are difficult for me here, there is increasingly less room for me.  I am ready every day to train and work but this is not to say that I am happy.' 
'The club know that I would like to go and that I would like them to help me find a way out. [Carlo] Ancelotti knows, Florentino [Perez] knows, everyone at the club knows and I hope that between now and Monday a solution is found.'

Kaka, who won the Ballon d'Or in 2007, has also fallen out of favour with the Brazil national team and was not picked for the Confederations Cup this summer.
At this stage, it would appear unlikely that he will make Phil Scolari's World Cup squad next summer.
Kaka came close to joining Manchester City in 2009, while he has been linked with loan moves to Arsenal and Manchester United in recent times - and Kaka admits that any move would have to be to a European side, with the player understood to be keen on a return to Milan.
He added: 'I cannot go to Brazil because the transfer market is closed there, the destination would have to be in Europe. 
'I believe it is in the best interests of myself and the club that I leave in an amicable way, it is the right time to go. I don't want to talk about others clubs because I have none at this stage.'
DailyMail

BAYERN'S RIBERY EASILY WINS UEFA BEST PLAYER IN EUROPE AWARD

Frank Ribery
MONACO -- Bayern Munich and France midfielder Franck Ribery won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for the 2012-2013 season on Thursday, beating Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by a big margin.

Ribery earned 36 votes in the poll of journalists from across Europe -- 23 more than four-time reigning world player of the year Messi. Real Madrid forward Ronaldo won three votes.

"It's a very special moment to be standing here this evening," Ribery said after receiving the award following the draw for the group stage of the Champions League in Monaco.

The 30-year-old Ribery was instrumental to Bayern Munich's incredible season in which the team won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.

"This distinction rewards Franck for the magnificent season he had with his club and above all underlines his magnificent talent which allows him to be considered among the best players in the world," French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet said. "Everyone in French football is very proud, and are with me in congratulating him."

The three-man shortlist was selected by a panel of 53 journalists drawn from each of UEFA's member nations. The same journalists then voted for the winner.

UEFA created the award after France Football magazine combined its traditional European accolade with FIFA's world player prize. Messi won the inaugural prize in 2011 but was beaten by Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta last year.

It is the third consecutive year that Messi and Ronaldo have been on the shortlist.
TSN

Kevin-Prince Boateng moves to Schalke from AC Milan

4-year deal for Ghanaian midfielder.

Kevin-Prince Boateng scored 10 goals in 74 league games for Milan after joining in 2010
Schalke has signed Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng from AC Milan.
The Italian side confirmed the deal on its website Friday, when Schalke presented the player at a news conference.
"I am very happy to be home in Germany, in the best league in the world," Boateng said.
Schalke general manager Horst Heldt said the club had signed the 26-year-old Boateng to a four-year deal.
"He is a player of extraordinary quality and a leading personality," Heldt said.
Heldt said it was easy to convince Boateng to switch to the Gelsenkirchen-based club — the difficulty was in convincing Milan to sell him.
Boateng scored twice as Milan qualified for the Champions League with a 3-0 win over PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday. Under UEFA rules, he remains eligible to play for Schalke in the competition proper.
While he was a key player in Milan's midfield, Boateng had a rocky time in Italy. In January, he was subjected to racist chants during a friendly with lower-division club Pro Patria, and he responded by walking off the field followed by the rest of his teammates.
Boateng scored 10 goals in 74 league games for Milan since joining in 2010. He previously played for English clubs Tottenham and Portsmouth, as well as Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin.
He represented Germany at youth level but opted to play for the country of father ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
"He has a lot of international experience and will greatly help our team," Schalke coach Jens Keller said.
CBC

European Super Cup - Matchpack: Bayern Munich v Chelsea

Team news, manager quotes and a preview video ahead of the European Super Cup clash between Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

Eurosport - guardiola - mourinho
TEAM NEWS
Bayern playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger has travelled to Prague but faces a race against time to recover from the ankle injury he sustained in the 1-1 Bundesliga draw at Freiburg on Tuesday. Holding midfielder Javi Martinez is also in the squad despite having had an abdominal injury. Thiago Alcantra is out for seven weeks with an ankle problem, while Holger Badstuber is a long-term absentee (knee).
Chelsea can call on Brazil defender David Luiz for the first time this season following a hamstring injury while Spain playmaker Juan Mata could come back into the side after being left on the bench for the goalless Premier League draw at Old Trafford. Chelsea's new signings from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala - Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o and Brazil midfielder Willian - are not in the 26-man squad.
MANAGER QUOTES
Pep Guardiola: "Mourinho is always very, very good ... with quick counter attacks ... he is a master at that and everybody knows he is an excellent, excellent trainer. Bastian is better but we are going to check and evaluate his ankle. In the morning I will speak with the doctors and we will decide. Hopefully he will play."
Jose Mourinho: "It’s not about me and Pep. It's about Chelsea and it's about Bayern Munich. It's about a Super Cup where the European champion is playing against the Europa League champion. Pep is not European champion and I'm not Europa League champion. We just coach now the European champion and the Europa League champion. This is not about us. It's about Chelsea and Bayern."
MATCH FACTS
Chelsea have faced Bayern three times in European competition, all in the Champions League.
The most famous of these matches was the 2012 final, when Chelsea won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
The other time also saw Chelsea come out on top, winning 6-5 on aggregate over two legs in the 2004-05 quarter-final.
The first match at Stamford Bridge ended 4-2 to Chelsea, with Bayern winning the second leg 3-2.
Bayern won 46 of their 54 games in all competitions last season; they have won four out of six this campaign.
Chelsea ended 2012-13 a season-best 10 games unbeaten and have extended that sequence to 13 this term with victories at home to promoted Hull City (2-0) and Aston Villa (2-1), and a 0-0 draw at Manchester United.
Mourinho is now unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in 62 Premier League fixtures.
Frank Lampard was involved on his club's opening day of the Premier League season for a record 18th occasion, scoring in the 2-0 win against Hull.
Eurosport

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Arsene's £70m Madrid swoop: Race against time to land Benzema, Di Maria and Ozil

Karim Benzema
 Arsenal want to blow their entire £70million
transfer budget on Real Madrid trio Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria as they bid to rescue a botched transfer window.
Arsenal – whose need for reinforcements became desperate yesterday when they were handed a very tough Champions League draw – have opened talks with Real chiefs over the triple swoop and received encouragement.
Di Maria
Despite all three players insisting they want to stay at the Bernabeu, Real will listen to offers for the trio as they look to balance the books after committing £86million to signing Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
Securing a deal for long-term target Benzema is Wenger’s priority, such is his desire to capture a world-class centre forward. 
The Gunners are working frantically on a deal that could see all three arrive at the Emirates by the transfer deadline on Monday.
Arsenal confirmed the re-signing of midfielder Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer and have also been offered former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou.

Mesut Ozil
However, there are fears within the corridors of power at the Emirates that they will not be able to land any of the high- profile targets before Monday’s deadline — a possibility that will anger supporters. A summer that promised so much has produced very little and manager Arsene Wenger is facing a make-or-break four days.
With the deadline fast approaching there is concern that Arsenal will run out of time to complete the Real deals, particularly with the Madrid club highly reluctant to sell before Gareth Bale’s move is ratified.
Wenger also remains interested in Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Valencia keeper Vicente Guaita.
His need to sign at least one forward heightened yesterday after Germany’s Lukas Podolski was ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a hamstring injury. Lukas Podolski was carried off in Tuesday’s 2-0 Champions League win over Fenerbahce with a hamstring strain.
The club’s medical team initially thought the former Cologne frontman would miss around five weeks. But Wenger has confirmed the injury is worse than first feared, with Podolski now set to miss more than two months.
There was better news on the injury front for Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, who have both been passed fit for Sunday’s clash against bitter rivals Spurs.
Ramsey (groin) and Wilshere (ankle) were doubts for the North London derby, but have now been passed fit.
Likewise, Flamini is also in contention to make his second Arsenal debut against Andre Villas-Boas’s side this weekend after completing his move.
Flamini, who has been training with Arsenal since his release by AC Milan, and his representative Darren Dein held talks at the club’s London Colney HQ on Monday to finalise a contract.
The French midfielder has signed a three-year deal worth around £40,000 a week.
Flamini’s versatility was key in Wenger’s decision to bring him back to the Emirates after he left on a free transfer in 2008. He can play anywhere across the midfield and also be used as a back-up full back.
Meanwhile, Real vice-president Fernando Fernandez Tapias has accused Tottenham of ‘dragging their feet’ over the Bale deal amid the embarrassing possibility that they will have to dismantle the stage they erected at the start of the week if Bale (right) does not sign in the next 48 hours. 
Real have a match on Sunday and the stage currently blocks the view of the pitch from the directors’ box.
Speaking ahead of the club’s friendly in Coruna, Tapias said: ‘He (Bale) is not here, because there are problems there (in London). 
‘We thought Bale was going to be with us by now but for the moment he is still not in Madrid.’
Madrid wanted Bale to play a part in Sunday’s lucrative lunchtime kick-off against Athletic Bilbao but Tottenham’s insistence on making Real Madrid wait until their transfer business has been completed now endangers that possibility and the player may have to be presented on Monday or even after the international break. 
Real Madrid agreed to allow Tottenham to complete their summer business before sealing the Bale deal but did not imagine this would push the conclusion back towards deadline day. If Bale does not make his home debut on Sunday, he will not play in front of Madrid fans for another three weeks.
If he signs at the start of next week he will leave for international duty immediately and will not be able to play his first game until September 14 away to Villarreal.
He would not be able to train with the rest of his team-mates until September 11 and coach Carlo Ancelotti is concerned that having missed an entire pre-season with the club, and only played in one of Tottenham’s summer friendlies, it could be a month before the player is properly integrated into his side.
Madrid have suggested markers have been moved during the course of negotiations and Tapias said of the last-minute glitches: ‘We are going to wait and see what  happens. Sometimes it is yes, sometimes it is no. They are dragging their feet. 
‘I don’t doubt the value of the player but Real Madrid (already) has a great team.’
DailyMail

Liga - Kaka tells Real Madrid to sell him before Monday

Kaka has told Real Madrid he wants to leave the club before Monday's transfer deadline.

 Real Madrid's Kaka
The Brazilian scored twice for Real in a 4-0 friendly win at Deportivo La Coruna on Thursday night but said after the match he was hoping for a quick move away from the club.
"I want to leave. I think it’s the best thing for me and for the club. I'm trying to solve it before Monday” said Kaka.
The 31-year-old joined Real Madrid from AC Milan in 2009 for a then world record fee of £56m.
However, injuries have hampered his time in Spain and he has struggled to claim a regular starting place over the last few seasons.
A return to Milan seems the most likely option with the Italian giants long having talked of their desire to bring the player back to the San Siro.
He has also been linked with moves back to Brazil and also to the MLS.
Eurosport

Ribery confident of beating Messi & Ronaldo to Best Player in Europe award


Frank Ribery
The Frenchman believes there are few who can boast a better 2012-13 season than him and is confident his side can beat Chelsea in the European Supercup

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery is optimistic about his chances of beating Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to Uefa's Best Player in Europe award.

The France international played a key role in Bayern's historic treble win last season and he believes there are few who would deny him the prestigious individual prize, currently held by Barcelona's Andres Iniesta. 

"Last season was perfect, so my chances of winning Uefa's Best Player in Europe Award are certainly good," Ribery told the official Bundesliga website.

"I was consistent. I've done everything I can. I'm tense, but also relaxed. There are not many people out there who would deny me the prize."

Ribery then looked ahead to Friday's European Supercup match against Chelsea and stressed that Bayern are determined to help head coach Pep Guardiola emerge victorious against his nemesis Jose Mourinho.

"It's right that it's a feisty meeting for the coaches. We are there to help our coach so that it's a pleasant experience for him. 

"We will give him our all and I'm confident it will happen."
Goal.com

Arsenal wait on €30 million Di Maria bid

Di Maria
The Gunners have tabled a formal offer for the Argentina winger after securing Champions League qualification but Real refuse to sanction any outgoings until Gareth Bale is signed.
Arsenal are waiting to hear if a €30 million bid for Angel Di Maria has been accepted as Real Madrid refuse to sanction any outgoings until Gareth Bale’s signing has been confirmed.

The Gunners tabled a formal offer for Di Maria after securing qualification for the group stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Madrid indicated during a week of discussions with Arsenal that they are willing to off-load the Argentine winger as they prepare to trim costs and free up space in the team for Bale.
But the bid has not yet been accepted and the Londoners will not be given the green light to hold personal talks with Di Maria until Real’s €100m world-record signing of Bale is finally secured.
Arsenal will have to persuade the 25-year-old Argentina winger to cut his ties with the Spanish giants and also see off competition for his signature from Galatasaray.
Di Maria’s public stance is that he wants to fight for his place in Carlo Ancelotti’s team although his position might change when Bale arrives.
Speaking to the Spanish press after setting up the winning goal for Karim Benzema in Monday’s 1-0 win at Granada, Di Maria said: "I understand the club are strengthening and they are precise in what they do. But I signed a contract until 2018 a year ago and my desire is to stay in the Bernabeu.”
Ultimately, Arsenal’s chances of capturing the player may depend upon Real’s desire to raise more money from sales, in which case they may encourage one of their attacking players to leave.
With Isco and Mesut Ozil both starting the new season in the team and taking up two of the three positions behind the centre-forward, Di Maria looks the odd man out for the Spaniards.
One player who is unlikely to swap the Bernabeu for Emirates Stadium is Benzema, who was also the subject of an enquiry from Arsenal last week.
As reported by Goal, Real chiefs told the Londoners they will not sell the French striker unless they first secure a replacement and, with only five days of the window remaining, the chain of transfers is seemingly too complex for Arsene Wenger to land him.
However, the move for Di Maria is now quite advanced and Wenger has also not given up hope of signing a marquee striker, with an audacious bid expected imminently for Wayne Rooney.
Chelsea have abandoned their pursuit of the Manchester United forward as they close in on the signing of Samuel Eto’o but Arsenal have privately been encouragement that the Premier League champions could be willing to sell them Rooney.
Wenger has not spend a penny on transfer fees this summer, with Yaya Sanogo and ex-Gunner Mathieu Flamini both free signings. Flamini signed a two-year, £50,000-a-week contract after reaching an agreement with the club following a final round of talks on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey is struggling to be fit for Arsenal's marquee Premier League clash against Tottenham on Sunday.
The midfielder, who has begun the new season in outstanding form, picked up a groin injury on Tuesday night, when he scored both goals in his team's 2-0 second-leg Champions League win over Fenerbahce, and is doubtful for the weekend visit of Spurs.
Goal.com

CONFIRMED: Chelsea sign Samuel Eto'o on a one year deal

CHELSEA have confirmed the signing of Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o on a one year deal from Anzhi Makhachkala.

Samuel Eto'o has joined Chelsea
Whilst exact details of the move have not been revealed it is thought that Chelsea agreed a fee of £4m with Anzhi with Eto'o earning about £6m for the season.
Speaking after finalising the deal Eto'o said: "I am very happy to be here but also anxious because I want to get playing as soon as possible.

"It wasn't a hard decision. I saw the qualities Chelsea have, and I was very happy with Jose Mourinho before, so when the opportunity came, I was very happy to take it."

Eto'o was last night seen at London's St Pancras station with his agent Pini Zahav, ahead of his medical at Stamford Bridge today.

The 32-year-old arrived on train from Paris, and is expected to take a large pay-cut to join Chelsea.
Reports in Spain suggest Eto'o turned down interest from former club Inter Milan and Tottenham to reunite with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, although Spurs have denied being linked with the marksman.

Express Sport understands Mourinho will splash out £45m on Eto'o, Porto winger Christian Atsu and Willian, after being snubbed by Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

Eto'o will cost Chelsea a combined £10m for his year in West London, while Atsu is valued at £3.5m with Willian worth £32m.

This late flurry of incoming transfers at the Blues will take Mourinho's summer spending to £64m, adding to the captures of Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer.
The Express

Mario who? How Borussia Dortmund have shrugged off the loss of Goetze

Borussia Dortmund appear to have shrugged off the departure of Mario Goetze as last season's runners-up go into Sunday's encounter against Eintracht Frankfurt full of confidence and in search of a fourth league win in as many matches.
Mario Goetze
Goetze, a product of Dortmund's youth system and one of the most gifted youngsters in Germany, joined Bayern Munich for 37 million euros in the off-season but coach Juergen Klopp is convinced his team, dubbed "the young wild ones", has lost none of its quality.
Dortmund's perfect start to the new campaign represents a vindication of Klopp's assessment with several youngsters stepping up to the plate as the Ruhr Valley club seeks to take the fight to Bayern for Bundesliga honours.
Teenager Marvin Ducksch and 21-year-old Jonas Hofmann have quickly made a name for themselves with scintillating appearances, supplemented by goals in the German Cup and league respectively.
Erik Durm, also 21, saw his contract extended to 2017 this week as Dortmund continues to build a solid foundation for the future.
"One can say that there is a chance the team will play even better," Klopp told reporters earlier this week.
"Mario's transfer has not had a negative impact on us. It would have been nice if it had not happened but from a sporting point of view, his loss is already irrelevant."
The comments regarding one of the most highly regarded players in Europe could be considered bold but Klopp's reign at Dortmund has never been conventional.
He spent 50 million euros on transfers in the close season, boosted by the revenues from Goetze's departure, and early signs indicate his purchases were astute.
Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck a hat-trick on his Bundesliga debut while Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan has settled well in his attacking midfield role.
Greece international Sokratis Papastathopoulos is also a valued addition to the defence as Klopp's swashbuckling style left them exposed a little too often last season.
"We have a very good squad," Klopp said. "Now it is up to us to make our fans forget last season and Mario."
So far Dortmund, who also finished runners up in the Champions League last season, have delivered on their promises.
Even leading striker Robert Lewandowski, who saw his transfer to Bayern blocked, has settled his differences with the club and is starting to hit the target.
It was his goal that saw them edge past Werder Bremen last week. Frankfurt, however, will be equally difficult to break down with Dortmund unable to call on the services of influential midfielder Ilkay Guendogan because of a back injury.
After two defeats, including a 6-1 demolition by promoted Hertha Berlin in their season opener, Frankfurt finally picked up some points last week with a 2-0 win over Eintracht Braunschweig.
However, Thursday's Europa League playoff round second leg tie against Azeri side Garabagh Agdam could be seen as a hindrance, although Frankfurt already hold a 2-0 lead and will be hoping to rest a few players ahead of Sunday's encounter.
They will likely be without forward Srdjan Lakic, who is still recovering from a back problem, while captain Pirmin Schwegler remains short of form after returning from a long injury absence.
"It will be very, very tight for Lakic," Frankfurt coach Armin Veh said. "Schwegler is looking better. He is making a good impression."
Eurosports